Lowry distorts Sotomayor statement on whether "judges should transcend their 'personal sympathies and prejudices' "

››› ››› ANDREW WALZER

Rich Lowry falsely claimed that Judge Sonia Sotomayor "disagreed with a colleague who thought judges should transcend their 'personal sympathies and prejudices.' " In fact, in the speech Lowry referenced, Sotomayor made clear that she "agree[d]" with the sentiment that judges should seek to "transcend their personal sympathies and sentiments" whenever possible.

In his May 27 New York Post column, National Review editor and syndicated columnist Rich Lowry falsely claimed that in a 2001 speech, Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor "disagreed with a colleague who thought judges should transcend their 'personal sympathies and prejudices.' "

Lowry cited Sotomayor's remark, "I wonder whether achieving that goal is possible in all or even in most cases." But Lowry omitted the first half of that sentence, in which Sotomayor made clear that she "agree[d]" that judges should seek to "transcend their personal sympathies and sentiments" whenever possible, a sentiment she attributed to Judge Miriam Cedarbaum. Sotomayor stated: "While recognizing the potential effect of individual experiences on perception, Judge Cedarbaum nevertheless believes that judges must transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices and aspire to achieve a greater degree of fairness and integrity based on the reason of law. Although I agree with and attempt to work toward Judge Cedarbaum's aspiration, I wonder whether achieving that goal is possible in all or even in most cases" [emphasis added].

From Sotomayor's 2001 speech, delivered at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law and published in 2002 in the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal:

Now Judge Cedarbaum expresses concern with any analysis of women and presumably again people of color on the bench, which begins and presumably ends with the conclusion that women or minorities are different from men generally. She sees danger in presuming that judging should be gender or anything else based. She rightly points out that the perception of the differences between men and women is what led to many paternalistic laws and to the denial to women of the right to vote because we were described then "as not capable of reasoning or thinking logically" but instead of "acting intuitively." I am quoting adjectives that were bandied around famously during the suffragettes' movement.

While recognizing the potential effect of individual experiences on perception, Judge Cedarbaum nevertheless believes that judges must transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices and aspire to achieve a greater degree of fairness and integrity based on the reason of law. Although I agree with and attempt to work toward Judge Cedarbaum's aspiration, I wonder whether achieving that goal is possible in all or even in most cases. And I wonder whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society. Whatever the reasons why we may have different perspectives, either as some theorists suggest because of our cultural experiences or as others postulate because we have basic differences in logic and reasoning, are in many respects a small part of a larger practical question we as women and minority judges in society in general must address.

From Lowry's May 27 New York Post column:

In a rambling 2001 speech, she disagreed with a colleague who thought judges should transcend their "personal sympathies and prejudices." Sotomayor said, "I wonder whether achieving that goal is possible in all or even in most cases."

Posted In
Government, Nominations & Appointments, The Judiciary
Network/Outlet
New York Post
Person
Rich Lowry
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